The Cheap CNC3018 Gets A Proper Revamp

Many people have been attracted to the low price and big dreams of the CNC3018 desktop CNC router. If you’re quick, you can pick one up on the usual second-hand sales sites with little wear and tear for a steal. They’re not perfect machines by any stretch of the imagination, but they can be improved upon, and undoubtedly useful so long as you keep your expectations realistic.

[ForOurGood] has set about such an improvement process and documented their journey in a whopping eight-part (so far!) video series. The video linked below is the most recent in the series and is dedicated to creating a brushless spindle motor on a budget.

As you would expect from such a machine, you get exactly what you pay for.  The low cost translates to thinner than ideal metal plates, aluminium where steel would be better, lower-duty linear rails, and wimpy lead screws. The spindle also suffers from cost-cutting, as does the size of the stepper motors. But for the price, all is forgiven. The fact that they can even turn a profit on these machines shows the manufacturing prowess of the Chinese factories.

We covered the CNC 3018 a while back, and the comments of that post are a true gold mine for those wanting to try desktop CNC. Warning, though: It’s a fair bit harder to master than 3D printing!

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Nearly-Destroyed Commodore Gets New Life

We all have our shiny, modern computers for interacting with the modern world, but at times they can seem a little monochromatic. Even the differences between something like macOS and Windows for the average user often boil down to which operating system loads an Internet browser. There are obviously more differences than that, but back in the 80s it was much more extreme with interoperability a pipe dream in most cases. What keeps drawing people to maintaining and using computers from that chaotic era is more tangible compared to modern machines, and that is meant quite literally; computers from this era can be saved from an extreme amount of degradation like this Commodore that was nearly completely destroyed before it was re-discovered.

The first step was to restore the case of this Commodore PC20-III, but the restoration of the computer’s internals took a bit more time. First, the entire board was de-soldered, with any rare chips being set aside for future use. Unfortunately the board itself was too corroded and otherwise damaged to be used, but since these were just two-layer boards it could be photographed and then re-created in CAD software to make a near-perfect duplicate of the original. The team at [The Cave] took the opportunity to add patch wires which would have been present in the original machine into the PCB, and made some other upgrades as well like adding sockets to various chips that would have been originally soldered to the board.

The passive components, especially capacitors, were brand new as well and some period-correct components such as a monitor and keyboard finish out the build. The computer boots on the first try, and is quickly put through its paces testing the hard disk drive, using the old floppy drive, and even playing a few video games from the era. The fact that retrocomputers like these are easy (by modern standards) to reverse engineer and restore surely leads to their continued popularity, and we’ve seen everything from C64s to this 128DCR get a similar full restoration.

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The controller after the rebuild, looking just like the stock controller but with an external antenna attached

An Extensive Walkthrough On Building Your Own KSP Controller

Having a game-tailored controller is a level-up in more ways than one, letting you perform in-game actions quickly and intuitively, instead of trying to map your actions to a clunky combination of keyboard and mouse movements. [abzman] took the Pelco KBD300A, a DVR-intended camera controller panel with a joystick, reverse-engineered it, and then rebuilt it into a Kerbal Space Program controller. What’s more, he documented every detail along the way!

The write-up is so extensive, it’s four separate posts — all of them worth reading without a doubt. In the first post, he describes the original hardware, the process of reverse-engineering it, and a few tips for your own RE journeys. Next, he covers about making his own board, showing all the small decisions he’s had to make, with plenty of KiCad screenshots. If you are on the lookout for designing such a board, there’s plenty to learn!

The original hardware didn’t go down without a fight — the third post talks about taming the seven-segment displays, the onboard joystick, and fighting with the key matrix wired in exactly the way you wouldn’t want. In the end, he shows us how you could tie a controller easily into Kerbal Space Program.

One more piece of hardware liberated, one more win for the hacker world. Whether it’s a Macintosh SE, a classic ThinkPad, or even a generic rotary tool, these upgrades are always a joy to see. If you wanted to learn to do such an upgrade yourself, here’s us showing how you can pull this off with a classic Sony Vaio!

Don’t Miss Your Last Chance To Enter The Hack It Back Challenge

While the 2022 Hackaday Prize as a whole winds its way through a good chunk of the year, each individual challenge that makes up the competition only sticks around for a limited time. As hard as it might be to believe, our time with theHack it Back challenge is nearly at a close, with just a few days left to enter your project before the July 24th deadline.

Each challenge in this year’s Hackaday Prize has been designed around the core themes of sustainability, resiliency, and circularity — and for the Hack it Back phase of the competition we asked hackers to essentially keep as much hardware out of the landfill as possible. That could mean making a simple fix that puts a piece of equipment back into service, or it might be a be complete rebuild of an older device to bring it up to modern standards. These are the kind of projects Hackaday was built on, so turning it into an official challenge this year made perfect sense. Continue reading “Don’t Miss Your Last Chance To Enter The Hack It Back Challenge”

Recycled Speed Boat Beats The Barnacles Out Of Your Average Rebuild

There’s an old saying that says “Anything is possible with enough Time, Money, or Brains. Pick two.” For [Mr HỒ Thánh Chế], the choice was obvious: Time, and Brains. This is evident by the impressive DIY boat build shown in the video below the break.

[Mr HỒ] starts with an Isuzu marine diesel engine that was apparently found on the beach, covered in barnacles and keel worms (and who knows what else). A complete teardown reveals that the crankcase was miraculously spared the ravages of the sea, and somehow even the turbo survived. After a good cleaning and reassembly, the engine rumbles to life. What’s notable is that the entire engine project was done with only basic tools, save for a lathe. Even generally disposable parts such as the head gasket are re-used.

Moving onto the hull, half of an old damaged boat is used and a new top is built. Car seats out of a Toyota sit behind a steering column also from a car, while the deck is built from scratch out of square tubing, foam board, and fiberglass.

What we liked about the project isn’t so much the end result, it has some build quality issues and it looks like the steering is far too slow, but what project of our own hasn’t been knocked together for fun with some obvious flaws? In fact, that’s very often the epitome of the Hacker spirit- doing it quick, dirty, having fun, and iterating as we go. For that, our hat is off to [Mr HỒ].

If boat recycling puts the wind in your sails, check out this boat-turned-sauna project.

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The shredder after being rebuilt, on the bench top, with the washing machine pulley driving it spinning. It has not yet been fed, but that's about to happen.

Shredder Rebuilt From The Ashes, Aims To Produce More Ashes

What do you do when you buy a broken shredder and, upon disassembly, find its gears in pieces? You might reach towards your 3D printer – this one’s not that kind of shredder, however. [New Yorkshire Workshop] gives us a master class on reviving equipment and putting it to good use – this one’s assigned to help turn their cardboard stores into briquettes for their wood burner.

But first, of course, it had to be fixed – and fixed it was, the crucial parts re-designed and re-built around a sturdy wooden frame. It was made into a machine built to last; an effort not unlikely to have been fueled with frustration after seeing just how easily the stock gears disintegrated. The stock gear-based transmission was replaced with a sprocket and chain mechanism, the motor was wired through a speed controller, and a washing machine pulley was used to transfer power from the motor to the freshly cleaned and re-oiled shredder mechanism itself. This shredder lost its shell along the way, just like a crab does as it expands – and this machine grew in size enough to become a sizeable benchtop appliance.

After cutting loads of cardboard into shredder-fitting pieces, they show us the end result – unparalleled cardboard shredding power, producing bags upon bags of thinly sliced cardboard ready to be turned into fuel, making the workshop a bit warmer to work in. The video flows well and is a sight to see – it’s a pleasure to observe someone who knows their way around the shop like folks over at [New Yorkshire Workshop] do, and you get a lot of insights into the process and all the little tricks that they have up their sleeves.

The endgoal is not reached – yet. The shredder’s output is not quite suitable for their briquette press, a whole project by itself, and we are sure to see the continuation of this story in their next videos – a hydraulic briquette press was suggested as one of the possible ways to move from here, and their last video works on exactly that. Nevertheless, this one’s a beast of a shredder. After seeing this one, if you suddenly have a hunger for powerful shredders, check this 3D printed one out.

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RAMPS Rebuild Keeps Robox 3D Printer Out Of Junk Bin

A 3D printer is a wonderful invention, but it needs maintenance like every machine that runs for long hours. [Rob Ward] had a well-used Robox 3D printer that was in need of some repairs, but getting the necessary replacement parts shipped to Australia was cost-prohibitive. Rather than see a beloved printer be scrapped as e-waste, he decided to rebuild it using components that he could more easily source. Unfortunately the proprietary software and design of the Robox made this a bit difficult, so it was decided a brain transplant was the best path forward.

Step one was to deduce how the motors worked. A spare RAMPS 1.4 board and Arduino Mega2560 made short work of the limit switches and XYZ motors. This was largely accomplished by splicing into the PCBs themselves. The Bowden filament driver motor had a filament detector and an optical travel sensor that required a bit of extra tuning, but now the challenging task was next: extruding.

The printer’s new custom hotend.

With a cheap CR10 hot end from an online auction house, [Rob] began modifying the filament feed to feed in a different direction than the Robox was designed for (the filament comes in at a 90-degree angle on the stock Robox). A fan was needed to cool the filament feed line. Initial results were mixed with lots of blockages and clogs in the filament. A better hot end and a machined aluminum bracket for a smoother path made more reliable prints.

The original bed heater was an excellent heater but it was a 240 VAC heater. Reluctant to having high voltages running through his hacked system, he switched them out for 12 VDC adhesive pads. A MOSFET and MOSFET buffer allowed the bed to reach a temperature workable for PLA. [Rob] upgraded to a GT2560 running Marlin 2.x.x.

With a reliable machine, [Rob] stepped back to admire his work. However, the conversion to the feed being perpendicular to the bed surface had reduced his overall build height. With some modeling in OpenSCAD and some clever use of a standard silicone sock, he had a solution that fed the wire into the back of the hot end, allowing to reclaim some of the build height.

It was a long twelves months of work but the write-up is a joy to read. He’s included STL and SCAD files for the replacement parts on the printer. If you’re interested in seeing more machines rebuilt, why not take a look at this knitting machine gifted with a new brain.